“It should be working now! If not, try praying some more, or strike it again!”
–Foreman-Primus Sarnia Maufry
The public face of the Adeptus Mechanicus---or the portion they allow Calixian society to see---are the Tech-Priests and Enginseers that roam the Sector. Bedecked in their deep crimson robes and adorned with all manner of machines and mechadendrites, these arcane beings talk of the great Omnissiah, pray before machines of all shapes and sizes, and speak in a language indecipherable to the average citizen. What most do not know is that the Mechanicus in the Sector is made up of far more than just Tech-Priests. There are, of course, the legions of servitors, but within the Lathes, and across their various Calixian enclaves, there is a secondary class of workers---the Lathesmasters. These people make up most of the population of many Calixian forge worlds, and it is their skilled labor and mechanical expertise that has kept the Lathes functioning for generations.
There are few surviving records detailing the origins the Lathesmasters. Many simply assume they are natives of the system, but most records indicate there were no inhabitants when the Mechanicum took possession of the Lathes. Common tales say they were imported as labor at some later time, just as the Mechanicus would import any required tool. Some even whisper of improbable genetic experiments of the Lords Dragon, surely another of the cabal’s self-aggrandizing rumors.
Whatever their origins, the Lathesmasters appeared to be perfectly adapted to forge world life. Each is far stronger and visibly shorter than most other humans in the Sector, but this was not seen as a downside as their stocky bodies made for tough, rugged workers. They possessed innate resistances and immunities to the harsh, polluted environments typical of most forge worlds, and seemed unaffected by the unforgiving and ever-changing gravity that was common to the Lathes. They were, in essence, the perfect workforce for the system, smaller in number but even better than the standard servitor complements most forge worlds use exclusively.
As decades passed and the Lathes grew in power, a strong family-lodge mentality began to grow. This impressed into their work, and forge-groups developed fierce rivalries over performance. Soon, these transformed into direct competition between the three main Lathes. The Tech-Priest overlords fostered this competition, channeling the Lathesmasters’ drive back into their work, and soon work quotas were filled at an ever-faster rate. Motivated by their leaders and the divinity of the Omnissiah, this unseen worker army helped shape the earliest days of the Calixis Sector.
Eventually this drive for exceptional work effort decreased. When the reward for meeting a work quota ahead of schedule was simply to move onto the next quota, certain elements began to question not only their purpose, but also their place within the Omnissiah’s plans. In response, large swathes of Lathesmasters organized into groups called “Cores,” and made demands that the priesthood of the Lathes were unwilling to grant. On Lathe-Hadd, a world where primary production was focused around ammunition, discontent was at its highest, and if not for the Forge-Provost’s swift response, a rebellion might have spilled out across the world.
Deciding that the risk to productivity was too great, a collection of Tech-Priests from Lathe-Het gathered to create what would be called “Rerum Novarum.” This charter described the exact requirements of the workforce, but at the same time also made provisions to reward those that met their work quotas with something other than just another work quota. Most importantly, however, it declared that there would be no distinction between the work conducted by the priesthood and that of the Lathesmasters---all work, no matter who completed it, was to be done in the name of the Omnissiah, and therefore all work was considered divine. It was a mostly symbolic declaration, and in truth much of the priesthood saw the edict as nothing more than a hollow appeasement of a society one step above the servitors, but the Lathesmasters accepted it, and soon quotas were being filled once again. For decades, the Lathes returned to peaceful production, with only the occasional flare of civil unrest. The Lathesmasters were allowed to keep their work-groups, and canny members of the priesthood used these groups against one another in competition. It was not until after the War of Brass that the specter of rebellion from the Cores once again appeared, but this time it was the fault of the priesthood, specifically the Divisio Genetor, a highly experimental faction within the Lathes consisting of Tech-Priests with little or no oversight.
Fascinated with the Lathesmasters’ biological differences, the Divisio Genetor began to delve deeper into the genetic history of the Lathesmasters. Some scattered reports from the time indicated that the Divisio Genetor’s sudden interest was actually prompted by the Lords Dragon, but if true it has never been confirmed. The Divisio Genetor had lofty goals for their experiments, and planned to see if further modifications of the Lathesmaster genome were possible. If successful, they could move Lathesmaster populations to other forge worlds with even harsher conditions, creating a workforce that did not rely on programmed servitors but rather comprised motivated workers dedicated to the glory of the Omnissiah.
Starting with coerced and abducted Lathesmasters who worked in the Lathe’s harshest conditions, the Divisio Genetor set to work on modifying their genetics to acclimatize them to extreme temperatures and areas of low oxygen. These invasive experiments, which would later be called the Grinder Atrocities, had an unusually high mortality rate, and once news of cruelty and mass fatalities spread the Cores of Lathe-Hesh rose as one in anger. Word travelled quickly to Lathe-Het and Lathe-Hadd, and soon all the Cores were demanding the cranial drives of the Divisio Genetor’s leaders. Thinking that previous suppression tactics would suffice, the Forge-Provosts were sent in to quell the populace. This backfired horribly, and three of Lathe-Hadd’s most prominent Cores---nearly a half-million men and women---were massacred. All work within the Lathes came to a grinding halt.
With pressure on all sides, and rumors that the vengeful Dragon Secutorii might soon involve themselves in the conflict, the priesthood delivered a series of encyclicals in the hope of bringing the matter to rest. Edict 1311-188-7 gave over much of the freedoms that the work-guilds desired and put an end to the experiments. At the same time, the edict gave the Mechanicum greater authority to transplant Lathesmasters to other areas of the Calixis Sector. The Cores never got their desired retribution for the actions of the Divisio Genetor, but numerous leading Genetor Magos soon found themselves transferred to the Panopticon Orbital, where they were never heard from again. After a ceremony of reunification within the Nidus Omega on Lathe-Het, a place where, until that day, no Lathesmaster had ever set foot, the Lathesmasters collectively agreed to the new conditions, and production started once again.
As it turned out, the Divisio Genetor’s experiments had been rather prescient, as it was not long before Lathe-Het was stripped of its manufacturing capability and the vast Lathesmaster population found itself transferred to other forge worlds across the Sector. With so many different areas needing the expertise of these skilled workers, the information from the Divisio Genetor’s experiments allowed the Mechanicus to ensure that Lathesmaster populations were always the right fit for whatever environment they found themselves in. As for the Lathesmasters that now inhabit almost every major Mechanicus installation across the Sector, they have yet to rebel again, and seem genuinely content with their position in the Omnissiah’s plan and their place in Calixian history.
A Lathesmaster is not something a citizen becomes, but is more something he is born into. They are the hardy and intractable workers of the Lathe Worlds, immune to the extremes of forge life, and differ considerably from other Calixian populations. Shorter, bulkier, and far stronger than the average hiveborn, a Lathesmaster could almost be considered genetically designed for heavy manual labour. Some Inquisitors respect these traits, as well as their technical expertise and familiarity with the Cult Mechanicus, and take promising Lathesmasters from their guilds so that they might serve a higher purpose. Their Mechanicum Masters often encourage such efforts, perhaps the better to gather information, and implant their own agents within rival organizations.
All Starting Skills, Talents, Traits, Gear and Wealth listed here totally replace the Rank 1 Scum listing.
Required Career: Scum
Starting Skills: Climb, Contortionist, Common Lore (Machine Cult, Tech), Speak Language (Low Gothic), Survival, Tech-Use.
Starting Talents: Iron Jaw, Melee Weapon Training (Primitive), Melee Weapon Training (Power), Pistol Training (SP).
Starting Traits: Dark Sight, Genetic Pantropy, Labourer Build.
Starting Gear: Light Flak Coat, Flak Helmet, work tunic (Common Quality clothing), charm (Mechanicus devotional icon), vial of Sacred Machine Oil, Combi-Tool or Lascutter, Good Quality Bionic Arm or Common Quality MIU, Stub Automatic with 2 reloads, Percussion Mallet.
Starting Wealth: 40+1d10 Thrones
Monthly Income: Drudging Class
Restrictions: Must have the Forge World Home World Origin.
Lathesmasters are naturally strong and quite sturdy, and tend to get stronger as they grow older. They also have a natural affinity for technology, a trait needed for the role they play in the Adeptus Mechanicus. Lathesmasters do not use the Scum Characteristic Advances, but instead use the Lathesmaster Characteristic Advances.